VF-2SS Valkyrie II SAP Nexx Gilbert
Review by VF5SS
While Evolution Toy's initial VF-2SS Valkyrie II was poorly received, being the first in a line of Macross toys still assured it of at least a few repaints and variants. And since Nexx Gilbert's blue-striped aircraft was the only machine from the OVA series to get any general merchandise (in the form of a plastic model kit from Bandai), it is arguably the most recognizable Valkyrie from Macross II. However, its release was preceded by a Faerie Squadron version that would be our first look at how Evolution Toy realized the Valkyrie's iconic Super Armed Pack (SAP). In addition, a standalone release of the SAP was made available in limited quantities so those who bought the bare-bones Silvie variant could complete their figure.
Please check out my video review.
For the purposes of this review, I will focus on the changes made with the Nexx variant, so please check out my review of Silvie's VF-2SSM/a> if you want a complete look at the base Valkyrie figure itself. First and foremost, Mr. 2P Color's machine is made from a slightly rougher-feeling plastic with a matte finish, rather than the smooth and shiny material used for Ms. 1P Color. As a result, Nexx's Valkyrie looks a bit more pleasing to the eye and feels just a tiny bit less cheap. Also, some of the thinner areas of the toy, which suffered from being slightly transparent on the Silvie version, have become more opaque with the material change.
As this is Nexx Gilbert's Valkyrie, you do get a tiny 1:60 pilot figure of Silvie's plot-irrelevant sorta-boyfriend to sit in the cockpit. Interestingly, this is the first of these Valkyrie II toys to include a male pilot, as the Faerie Squadron consists of Silvie's all-girl lackeys.
Evolution Toy also applied several tweaks to the base figure, such as redesigned locking tabs for the tailfins so that they actually, you know, lock in place for fighter mode. Unfortunately, my copy of the figure had some weird assembly woes, as both fins would twist their tiny screws out of the base of the swivel joint when moved. In my video review, I attributed this to the oddly thick clear plastic washers stuck in-between the diecast metal assembly and the fin itself, and I found out afterwards that removing the washers entirely appears to have fixed that problem.
Flipping over to the toy's underside reveals some significant revisions to the transformation. First off, the plastic mounts for the diecast swing bars have also been modified, so the whole leg assembly has two separate positions for the different modes. In theory, pulling the diecast bar back better aligns the engine/leg for fighter mode, while leaving it forward allows the legs to plug in where they need to for Gerwalk and Battroid mode. It's a sound idea, but the rubbery plastic of the gray mounting bars tends to get chewed up when you move the joint. In addition, neither position feels especially solid, so the bar tends to travel in between them while you're trying to transform the figure.
Moving on to an improvement that actually kind of works, Evolution Toy added an extra flip-out tab to help keep the engines in place for fighter mode. While this does help out a fair bit, getting the leg all-the-way plugged-in can still be a messy affair, as you have to deal with getting all three tabs lined up while two of them (the existing flip-out tab on the arm and the new one) are freely movable. Still, I'll take some extra frustration over the legs just falling out-of-place like they do on Silvie's Valkyrie.
Lastly, the shoulder assemblies have gained their own L-shaped clip that lets them lock in place to the fighter mode's underside. This ends up being a really big help with the arm's SAP equipment attached.
The Super-Armed Pack set consists of a familiar spread of VF-1 style accessories. Nexx's Valkyrie in particular includes a modified right leg pack for his custom rail gun pod, and two "Squire" attack drones.
Also included with this release is a simple flight stand. You get two separate armatures for the displaying the VF-2SS with or without the SAP. I actually like this arrangement a lot better than Bandai's Valkyrie stands, as this one is so much more compact and takes up less shelf space.
The Squire drones have their own armatures so they can be positioned flying in formation with the Valkyrie. They are mounted on small ball-joints and can be turned to a few different angles. However, things get a little crowded once the SAP-laden Valkyrie takes to the stand.
As soon as you start to handle the SAP parts, it becomes painfully obvious just how cheap these things both look and feel. While the details are alright, the plastic used has a bunch of flash around major parts, and a lot unsightly sharp edges. This is seriously just a step away from the kind of plastic you'd find on a dollar store toy.
Excess glue is present in nearly every nook and cranny, including this joint for the armored wing assembly.
There's a ton of production scars too, even in places that will be clearly visible like the underside of the rail gun.
My biggest concern is just how thin the plastic is in some places. The connections between the backpack engines and the central block already have stress marks from being attached and removed from the Valkyrie just a few times. Do your best to handle this area with kid gloves, lest the damn thing break apart.
One thing on the backpack that isn't going to break is the extra long antenna, as it is made from a strong rubbery plastic that happily bends out of the way while handling the toy.
To Evolution Toy's credit, their Valkyrie II toy does look pretty impressive at a glance, and the packs stay attached for the most part.
However, the look, feel, and finish of the VF-2SS's equipment is a far cry from the rock-solid Super/Strike parts Yamato released for their VF-1 Valkyries. Evolution Toy's effort feels like a huge step back from what Yamato was doing several years prior. Just like the main figure itself, everything feels primitive and outdated.
While the base toy was criticized for being too chunky in fighter mode, the addition of the SAP masks some of its aesthetic failings.
As I mentioned before, the right leg pack can carry Nexx's custom heavy rail gun pod.
The thing is, though, the gun isn't held in by anything other than friction, which means it can be bumped off quite easily. While a dab of superglue or floor polish can fix this problem in a pinch, I'm kind of baffled Evolution Toy couldn't come up with something more robust than what Bandai did with their now more than 20-year-old model kit.
And despite being the first release, Silvie's VF-2SS can mount the SAP just as well as Nexx's Valkyrie. However, since her Valkyrie lacks the extra flip-out locking tab for its legs, the fighter mode tends to come apart if you pick it up off its landing gear.
Moving on, the flight stand can still happily display the fully equipped Valkyrie II. Just don't jostle the whole setup around too much or you might jar one of the legs loose.
And while I managed to get everything mostly lined up for these photos, it should be noted that attaching the arm packs actually covers up the flip-out tabs that secure the forearms to the legs in fighter mode, so the figure's stability is somewhat compromised. You also cannot open up the forearm panels to allow the fists to swing out, so please plan ahead before changing the Super-Armed Valkyrie between modes.
As I mentioned before, the display stand gets pretty crowded when both the Valkyrie II and its Squire drones are plugged into the stand's base. By default, the drones hug so close to the aircraft you'd almost think Evolution Toy intends for them to help hold the VF-2SS aloft.
That said, it is possible to angle the Squires away from the Valkyrie by pulling their own armatures slightly out from the slots they're tabbed into.
Now the drones look like they're flying in formation with the Valkyrie, similar to what was seen during their brief appearance in the OVA.
As you would expect, the fully equipped toy becomes much more top heavy in Gerwalk mode.
The Valkyrie II's tiny feet and decidedly limited joints mean there are very few poses you can achieve with the figure in this configuration. And sadly, you cannot use the display stand in this mode, as both armatures are too short to allow enough clearance for the toy's legs.
At the very least, you can recreate the look of the Valkyrie II's game sprites from the Macross II: Lovers Again arcade game. I can just hear the power-up voice shouting, "GA-WAHK! MI-SAIRU! HORMING!"
Gerwalk mode also lets you show off all the SAP's various built-in gimmicks, like a set of five opening missile launcher on either arm pack. Sadly, the doors are pretty flimsy and sometimes don't close properly. Underneath each panel is a trio of black voids that look less like a source of rocket-powered death and more like the face of Danboard's weird cousin.
The ends of each arm pack can open up to store the normal type rail gun pod included with the other VF-2SS figures. Now, as far as I know, Nexx's Valkyrie does not come with the accessory (and it was flat out missing from the tray when I opened my figure) so I am borrowing this gun from Silvie's. It's a pretty snug fit for the gun pod, and I found that the only way for me to remove it was to pry the whole arm pack off again...
At the end of each armored wing is a rotating missile pod with opening launcher doors. Upon opening up the launchers you are greeted with some truly gnarly paint work, with a nasty seam line going right through the molded on missiles. Again, this looks far too much like a cheap toy for what is supposed to be an expensive high-end figure. Also, the missile pods will pop off when you rotate them, which is truly the mark of "quality."
A similar missile pod is mounted right in the middle of the Valkyrie II's chunky backpack. This pod can rotate a full 360 degrees (without falling off) and can even slide back and forth depending on the mode the figure is in. Like the wing pods, this upper launcher has poorly painted missiles molded into the plastic across a gappy seam. At the very least you might get a chuckle out of the opened pod looking a bit like a surprised Johnny 5 from Short Circuit.
When you finally reach Battroid mode, the SAP-laden VF-2SS does manged to stand up perfectly fine.
It can even sorta pose a bit if you're patient.
The upside to the cheap plastic used on the SAP set is that it actually doesn't add that much more weight to the figure. Also, the toy's limited leg articulation ends up being an asset when carrying this huge backpack. You're not going to see the legs suddenly splay out so far as to make the Valkyrie tumble because on this toy, they cannot physically move that far!
And as expected, the big rail gun assembly can flip up and over the Valkyrie's head like the beefed up strike pack it is.
There's even the little flip-down blast shield for covering the face.
Although there isn't really a set way to rest the assembly over the Valkyrie II's head, which again puts this toy on the same level as the old Bandai kit. While it is true there is no art work depicted just how this part of the backpack interacts with the robot's noggin, I wished Evolution Toy had tried to come up with something.
Overall, for every step forward Evolution Toy tried to make with their minor tweaks and improvements to their VF-2SS figure, the Super-Armed Pack manages to nullify their efforts by being so frustratingly sub-par. Many consider the SAP to be essential equipment for the Valkyrie II, so I can understand when fans want to shell out for a full set like this one here. The fully-loaded VF-2SS is very much the design's iconic look, as it rarely appeared with the SAP in the OVA or promotional artwork. However, for as much as Evolution Toy is charging for this whole set (roughly $300 USD for the set or just $60 USD for the packs), what you are getting is an outdated Valkyrie toy with some poor quality accessories. I can't recommend this figure, even to diehard Macross II fans. Perhaps if you see one for sale at a heavy (and I mean heavy) discount, then it makes for an alright display piece. That said, the shelf presence of a 1:60 scale VF-2SS toy with its humongous weaponry isn't enough to excuse paying full price for the combination of an outdated Valkyrie figure with poor quality accessories.
|Posted 7 October, 2016 - 13:48 by VF5SS|